Cricket

MS Dhoni as mentor for Team India at T20 World Cup: Why it bodes well for Kohli and Co

There’s no doubt that Dhoni brings a lot to the table with his experience and his presence in the dressing room will be beneficial for the team.

MS Dhoni as mentor for Team India at T20 World Cup: Why it bodes well for Kohli and Co

It’s possible the Board would be looking at Dhoni as a long-term replacement for Shastri. AP

Ravichandran Ashwin and MS Dhoni emerged as the standout names after BCCI announced India's T20 World Cup squad on Wednesday.

While Ashwin's inclusion in the squad was surprising but had its merits, Dhoni being named as the mentor of the team was completely on the unexpected lines.

"(I) spoke to him in Dubai. He agreed to be a mentor for World T20 only and I discussed with my colleagues and all are on the same page. I spoke to captain (Virat Kohli) and vice-captain (Rohit Sharma) and everyone agreed," BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a press conference.

Understandably, the fans were excited with the news. Dhoni, who had retired from international cricket in August, led the national team to three big titles. Under his leadership, Team India won the 2007 T20 World Cup, 2011 50-over World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.

Virat Kohli with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Facebook/virat.kohli

Virat Kohli with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Facebook/virat.kohli

Apart from being one of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, Dhoni made a name for himself as a brilliant finisher with the bat.

Why bring Dhoni as a mentor?

Dhoni is not new to the mentorship role. As a senior player when he was with Team India and currently with Chennai Super Kings (CSK), he has been a guiding force of his team members. His leadership qualities and tactical nous were evident during his long stint as the captain of the national team.

His record as a captain in T20 cricket has been phenomenal. Apart from captaining the team which won the 2007 T20 World Cup, Dhoni has helped CSK to win three IPL titles while also includes leading the side to five finals in the IPL.

The World Cup squad has players who have played and prospered under Dhoni. The likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and the captain Virat Kohli share a great bond with Dhoni and spoke about the former skipper’s influence in their careers.

Dhoni might have retired from international cricket but he’s still the captain of CSK. The number of matches he plays has reduced but he’s still very much in touch with the game. There’s no doubt that Dhoni brings a lot to the table with his experience and his presence in the dressing room will be beneficial for the team.

Dhoni and Kohli’s relationship

Once when Kohli was asked to define his relationship with Dhoni in two words, he wrote, ‘trust and respect’.

After Dhoni decided not to play international cricket anymore, Kohli had said, “It's been a pleasure playing under you, alongside you. You showed belief in me, which I would always be grateful for. I have said it before, I will say it again, you will always be my captain."

Kohli also said that talking tactics with Dhoni made him a better captain. In cricket, the captain is the ultimate decision-maker. Both

Dhoni and Virat Kohli understand the aspects of captaincy on the field and managing the team off the field. Considering their healthy relationship, it’s unlikely that the presence of another strong character in the dressing room will cause any problems. Virat will hope that with Dhoni being part of the support staff, he will finally lift his first ICC trophy as a captain.

Dhoni as future head coach?

There are speculations about Ravi Shastri’s future as the head coach of Team India. Last month, an Indian Express report stated that Shastri and other support staff are planning to step down after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

The report stated that Shastri, who has been the full-time coach since 2017, has informed his board members about his decision to part ways. Former India captain Rahul Dravid, who took charge as head coach of India’s limited-overs team during their Sri Lanka tour in July, is keen to continue as the head of National Cricket Academy. So, it’s unlikely he’ll apply for the job if Shastri decides to step down.

It’s possible the board would be looking at Dhoni as a long-term replacement for Shastri. If India can clinch the T20 World Cup and Shastri decides to quit, Dhoni will definitely be a strong contender.

But there's only on hurdle. Dhoni is still the captain of CSK and he might want to continue playing in the IPL. Also, being the head coach of Team India comes with its own set of challenges. Although his work load has reduced over the years, not sure if Dhoni would be again willing to spend a lot of time away from home.

Updated Date: September 09, 2021 13:23:20 IST

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